In a very not surprising turn of events, Barack Obama won the presidency last night. Additionally, Democrats performed well in the Senate but were not even close to retaking the House.
It was very clear that Mitt Romney would be no friend of poker. The GOP made outlawing all online poker, even legal state online poker part of its platform, and Romney publicly came out against any federal legalization effort.
Under a Romney presidency, Harry Reid or Joe Barton would have next to no chance of successfully pushing a federal legalization effort (which would be the most ideal, even if it’s likely to be flawed). Of course, in the first four years of Obama, it’s not like anything came close at the federal level either. The most action was the DOJ interpreting past laws. It used the UIGEA and other laws to create Black Friday, but then also publicly stated that legalized state poker would not violate any federal laws.
How much did Obama have to do with either of these DOJ actions? Next to nothing. In fact, Obama has so far been a big nothing in regards to online poker. At least you can say he isn’t a major Frist-style negative nancy like Romney though.
With Obama, the poker world has some outs. The most likely occurrence that also has the least overall benefit is the continued expansion of intra-state legal online poker. Nevada will be launching soon, and it’s only a matter of time until states like New Jersey, California, and others have online poker within its borders. I think it’ll by the time 2014 or 2015 rolls around, we’ll see significant instra-state online poker, though most people in the US will still be left in prohibition.
The poker world has some federal-level outs. With the Democrats still firmly in control of the Senate and a friend with Harry Reid, he may be able to tack on some online poker legalization rider to a bill, just like Frist did the UIGEA in 2006. Again, I think this would likely happen sometime in 2014, perhaps just before the midterm elections (just like what Frist did).
There is also the possibility that Barton/Reid get some bill pushed through both houses of Congress, like most traditional legislation are pushed. It’ll be a long slog and is unlikely to happen, but at least it could happen.
There is also the possibility that Obama has a come to Jesus moment where he suddenly embraces and pushes for online poker, similar to how he did for gay marriage this past year. Perhaps Obama just gets the itch and wants to play or perhaps he just wants to show his range in terms of flip flopping, but there is a remote possibility of this happening.
All in all, I don’t expect miracles in regards to US legalization efforts soon. Our best hope for something significantly positive occuring is likely in the 2014-2015 range. With Obama instead of Romney in office though, at least we don’t have some muppet that will veto any break we get.